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Good evening! My elderly mom of 94 yrs is on hospice for CHF. But she has breast cancer too. She does not see a doctor anymore, but her breast cancer is thought to be Inflammatory breast cancer. She thought she had a cyst in the breast back in April or May of this year, but her breast has been red and inflamed with a mass in it for a few months now. The mass is growing. From what I’ve read on IBC, it is an aggressive form of cancer. She does not want to treat for it. But the mass is hard and growing and smells bad. It seems to be growing from the middle of the left breast to under her arm. What will happen if she doesn’t treat for this? Hospice is keeping an eye on it, but that’s about it. They said if she needs it wrapped, they will handle it. But how is this going to go without treatment?

The cyst will open into an open sore, and yes, will be maloderous. Will need dressings and packings. Has likely already moved to systemic. She is on hospice so it unlikely to do scans to read for spread with no treatment to follow.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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Have hospice wrap it. They have a cream that keeps most of the odor under control. It is pretty amazing stuff.

My sister died of this and we put a tray of kitty litter under the bed to help with the odor that the cream didn't contain.

When it spread she could not be moved because her spine would spontaneously break. It was pretty rough. So prepare yourself.

I am sorry that your mom is facing this. Great big warm hug to both of you.

Encourage her to utilize the pain meds if she needs them and the anti anxiety meds.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Ask Hospice to have a Wound Care Nurse come out.
They are "specialists" when it comes to caring for things like this.
Hospice will help manage the pain. They would have done this with the original diagnosis that made her eligible for Hospice to begin with. With the IBC she will probably have more pain sooner and they can teach you how to manage it.
In my opinion this is a wise decision that your mom has made. The outcome with or without treatment will be the same. The big difference is she will not be filling her body with chemicals that really will not prolong or improve her life.
Give your mom a hug for me, tell her she is a brave, wise woman.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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AlvaDeer Oct 25, 2020
EXCELLENT idea. These things can stay contained in move inward destroying tissue, but eventually will work a way outward, which will mean drainage and odor. This distruction of tissue is best assessed by a wound care team. I sure second this requesting a wound care consult from doctor.
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One of the hospice nurses said she will wrap the breast when it becomes necessary. My mother is denying any pain now, but I’m not sure I believe her. Her breast and underarm looks so painful. Her breast is huge
and so red. Her nipple is inverted and there is discharge. She is in denial and keeps saying she has cystic breast disease and that’s what it is. She says she is just ignoring it and hoping it just goes away. No one is arguing with her. Just making sure she’s as comfortable as she can be.
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AlvaDeer Oct 25, 2020
I think you are handling this just right. There is nothing at this point to be done but the wound care. I had not seen your update. I understand now how you are getting the maloderous effect through the inverted nipple and discharge through the ducts. You are so right, now she is on hospice and will not be getting diagnostics and treatment, to allow your Mom to keep her denial in the time she has left. Argument will only cause her further pain. Just let her know that cystic breast can get very painful and to ask for medication when she needs it. Cancers often do remain painfree until they hit something like bone, where the pain can be very severe. Wishing you the best and so sorry she is having to go through this.
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"But the mass is hard and growing and smells bad."

"They said if she needs it wrapped, they will handle it."


I've worked at a Cancer Center. If it is smelling bad, I wonder when they think they should handle it?

It it is left untreated, I feel like it may spread.


It is a blessing that your mom has lived to be 94 years old. I am so sorry you all are going through this. Blessings to you.
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AlvaDeer Oct 25, 2020
Haileybug, this cancer has almost certainly spread elsewhere. This sweet lady is on hospice now. There won't be testing and treatment for metastatic cancer now. It is recognized that she is dying, and whether it is the heart failure or the cancer that takes her now, the goal is comfort. A tumor of this type is growing, and may stay contained, eating tissue from within, or will (as likely has happened with the maloderous condition) break through the skin and grow outward. Whatever it does, it will need treatment now by wound nurses. But a tumor this well advanced will have already metastasized through the lymph system almost without any doubt. So now it is treatment with wound control, and comfort measures.
We recently had a poster ask about what would happen if they chose no treatment, lumpectomy, or other, for breast cancer. This is one possible outcome for her, as I know you know.
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I'm finding it difficult to know what is the right thing to do with my husbands situation but, that being said I did have an aunt with breast cancer and she decided to do nothing. The only thing I can tell you is that Hospice will keep your mother comfortable. If she cares for them and you feel they are doing a good job, maybe respecting her final wishes isn't that bad. I don't know if this helped you at all but maybe it has a little. My aunt never regretted it, she felt very blessed.
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Reply to bobandjudy
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nymima Oct 25, 2020
Your reply did help! Thank you.
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As a breast cancer survivor (if you want to call it that), Your mom is on hospice now. I am confident her cancer has spread all over her body. Trust me on this one. Other than removing the breast, which is major surgery, I don't think she could survive the chemo and radiation. I agree at 94 just let her believe that it is a cyst.

All the answers on wound treatment etc. are very good.

Many hugs to you and your mom.
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Reply to MaryKathleen
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If this were me, I would feel the same as your Mom. She is in excellent care with hospice. They will keep her comfortable and control any pain. I know you want to do everything you can for her and you have, with having Hospice. Any care for it would only intensify everything including suffering for her. I know how hard it is, having gone through much the same. Hospice can be a big help to you in the grieving process that has started. ❤️
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Reply to Marylepete
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You need to talk with the doctor who diagnosed it. The doctor can tell you how it will progress and if anything needs to be done in the way of palliative care. For example, some people with lung cancer do not want treatment, but they might get a couple of rounds of radiation to shrink a tumor creating pain. Talk to the expert.
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Reply to my2cents
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If your mom does not get treatment for her cancer, expect it to invade other organs: bones, lungs, liver, and maybe metastases to the brain. Since she is on hospice for CHF, that is more likely to end her life than the cancer. However, she may need more pain medication if the cancer presses on nerves and causes pain.
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Reply to Taarna
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At 94 I certainly wouldn’t do anything either. I would allow hospice to handle any situation that arises.

I am so sorry that you are watching your mom in this situation. It’s very hard to see a parent deteriorate.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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My mother is 98 and if she had such a diagnosis I would not do any treatment just comfort measures only. Sorry about your mom. She made the choice it is ultimately her decision.
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Imho, it is highly likely that your mother's breast cancer has metastasized. Prayers sent.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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I am so sorry you and your mother are going through this. If your mom chooses not to treat her cancer there isn't much you can do. Any treatment at this point would be as hard on her system as the disease itself. It's natural to want to "fix" her, to do something, anything you can. But there isn't anything to do here besides keeping her as comfortable and clean as possible. Let her be your lead in this. If she is accepting it, allow her decision to guide you.
Having hospice on board is wonderful. Those Angel's are so kind and capable. When my Father was dying this summer the hospice staff was as supportive to me and Mom as they were to Dad. They did everything to keep him pain free and calm right till the end. And they continue to offer after-care and support to Mom even now, months later.
Best of luck to you as you continue this journey.
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Reply to swanalaka
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I hope I never live that long--I would be praying to be with Jesus.
Having took care of my mom over 15 years it sucked the life out of me; when she died age 90 it nearly destroyed me and I'm slowly recovering as I had to completely sacrifice my life for her. Her care will impact the rest of my life in terms of savings and retirement (I probably won't be able to). Even before then I could only work part time because even before that she had some Alzheimer's but not to the point she wandered. That came much, much later which necessitated around the clock 24/7 care. At age 60 I grew as much dependent on her as she did me--we needed each other. I was her complete life support: Tube feedings, bowel schedule, cleaning, managing her diabetes with insulin, etc etc etc but she did very well and died of other natural causes not related to Alzheimer's (she had liver cancer but had NO symptoms until one week before she died!) Even her labs were good up until that time.

Irony all the years I battled her Alzheimer's it was something else that killed her. She could have been a walkie-talkie self caring person the same would have happened to her. God took her life from me.

But I gave her a very comfortable life, and she died in her own home. Never needed any kind of pain meds or psychotropics. Hospice was amazed just how comfortable she was without drugs. they came over often that last week of her life but she was good. Her death was incredibly peaceful--she merely opened her eyes, took two deep breaths and died.

The only time she moaned was when I had to turn and clean her--I never did let her lie in her waste. I kept her clean! She always hated getting cleaned like that for years. But at least I knew she could respond to discomfort, so I knew absoutely certain she was comfortable without narcotics. Other than that she was peaceful as could be. She also died with perfect skin. Not a single mark.


Working now, back at school..I'm slowly recovering from her loss. But that's what aged parents do to their kids who opt to care for them.
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Reply to cetude
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nymima Oct 29, 2020
I don’t know if I could do all that cetude! My mother has said that when the time comes for her not to be able to care for herself, that she would go to the Hospice facility we have close by. I’ve been my mother’s caretaker for almost 9 yrs now because she is blind from advanced macular degeneration, but she is still in her own home. She is still managing. I spend everyday there, but I don’t have to care for her as far as showers or cleaning her up. I have non Hodgkin’s lymphoma for almost 4 yrs now. I still treat. I think hospice is there for me also! But I could never do more than what I do now. It would take me over the edge. I also cared for my sister who died of a brain tumor a year before I started caring for my mother. My caretaking role is going on for over 10 yrs. It took its toll on me. Thank God for hospice! I don’t know where I’d be. I hope you can get your life back now. I think it is a slow process. I know I am forever changed. One foot in front of the other. Good bless.
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